Just Cause 3 – Review In Progress

More explosive than a Michael Bay film, but infinitely more interesting.

“Sandbox” is a popular term used in gaming to describe open-world games, but the Just Cause series takes this concept to new heights both literally and figuratively.  Believe me, I spent more hours linking stunts together and creating complex destruction scenarios than I did performing missions while playing Just Cause 2. To me, sandbox games are more than just open-world, they also make me want to keep experimenting long after the adventure has been completed. After playing around 10 hours of Just Cause 3, I'm here to say that it's just what I expected (and wanted).

With non-stop, wanton destruction, high-flying acrobatics, and over-the-top stunts, this is the type of game that Michael Bay would make. Unlike his films, however, people will want to continue the experience after thirty minutes of edge-of-your-seat action. Just Cause 3 once again centers on the suave and athletic Rico Rodriguez, but this time he has returned to his Mediterranean homeland of Medici to free it from the dastardly dictator, General Di Ravello. Throw in a fictional and extremely powerful mineral mixed with lofty plans for world domination, and the result is just enough of a plot to keep players on track for their evolving journey of destruction.

This game is going to make it hard for me to play other action games where I'm limited to running or driving on land. It's not just that there are multiple options for traveling around, the sheer fun of mixing them together and injecting destruction has me hooked! Imagine standing on the ground near a cliff and shooting the grappling hook around 20 feet away. Then reel yourself in and pull the rip cord to start parachuting, switch to the wingsuit and dive over the cliff, gaining speed. Then keep up the speed by flying low to the ground and periodically shooting out the grappling hook and reeling it in again. Switch to the parachute, shoot the grappling hook at a car, reel in and stand on top of the car and blast enemies with the rocket launcher. Next, shoot  the grappling hook to tether enemy cars to lamp posts and watch them wrap around them like the game tether ball, jump inside the car, drive it off a cliff, jump out and on the roof and start freefalling, and then continue the fun. This is just a small sample of what can be done through creative use of the many useful tools in the game.

Fortunately, there are also many fun missions and trials to perform that are separate from taking over Di Ravello's territory. Most of the main missions are actually fun, and many of them help to promote stunts that players might not think of on their own. Trials are also quite varied and range from car, boat, and airplane races to crashing a bomb-laden vehicle into a lighthouse to destroying areas with certain weapons. In lieu of currency, gears are rewarded for performing well in trials, and these gears are used to upgrade weapons and gadgets. Each type of trial rewards unique gears that are used for particular upgrades, and these upgrades are extremely handy. For example, players can upgrade to gain the use of up to six tethers, and grenades can be customized to have a short or long fuse or explode on contact. As for taking over territory, each area has a variety of tasks to be completed before an area switches to rebel control. This is where most of the destructive fun comes into play as there are a wide variety of explosive containers, electrical devices, antennas, satellite dishes, fuel tanks, and more just waiting to be chained together for mass destruction! Just like performing combos in a fighting game, part of the fun is trying to extend destruction combos for as long as possible.



 

All isn't perfect in the explosive land of Medici though, as a few bugs mar the experience. For starters, Di Ravello's soldiers must have been recruited from the bottom of the barrel because they don't know any tactics besides standing still and attacking. They're also inconsistent as sometimes they don't see me standing a few feet from them while other times they're sniping me from far-off locations. I've also seen a few bugs where they look like they're standing still but they slide around as if they're on patrol. My other big complaint regards the design choice that forces constant updates on the screen concerning in-game feats that are automatically uploaded to leaderboards. Annoying text is shown whenever players obtain a new record or when their record is broken, and I haven't figured out how to disable it yet.

Thankfully, these small gripes aren't enough to ruin the creative fun I'm having with Just Cause 3. To be honest, I expected to find more problems with such a gigantic open-world sandbox game. I'll have a more in-depth review later this week after I blow the hell out of the rest of Medici and liberate the smoking ruins.